EIT jatkaa ns. "sole or decisive"-säännön täsmentämistä

26.2.2013 | Oikeusuutiset

Markku Fredman

Euroopan ihmiosikeustuomioistuin (EIT) on Espanjaa koskevassa ratkaisussaan katsonut, että epäillyn oikeutta oikeudenmukaiseen oikeudenkäyntiin ei ollut loukattu, vaikka hän ei ollut voinut suorittaa asianomistajan vastakuulustelua pääkäsittelysssä.

EIT totesi, että asianomistajan kertomus, joka lopulta jouduttiin suureksi osaksi lukemaan esitutkintapöytäkirjasta, muodosti joidenkin syytekohtien osalta ainoan tai ratkaisevan näytön valittajan syyllisyydestä (ns. sole or decisive -sääntö”.

Valittajalla olisi ollut mahdollisuus esittää kysymyksiä asianomistajalle tutkintatuomarin luona, mutta hänen avustajansa ei tuolloin – syytä ilmoittamatta – ollut paikalla. Lisäksi EIT katsoi muutoinkin, että kansalliset tuomioistuimet olivat tehneet kaiken voitavansa kompensoidakseen puolustukselle sitä haittaa, joka vastakuulustelumahdollisuuden puuttumisesta aiheutui.

EIT totesi seuraavaa:

42. According to the Court’s case-law, the
so-called “sole or decisive rule” should not be applied in an
inflexible manner when reviewing questions of fairness of the
proceedings, because to do so would transform the rule into a blunt and
indiscriminate instrument that runs counter to the traditional way in
which the Court approaches the issue of the overall fairness of
proceedings, namely by weighing in the balance the competing interests
of the defence, the victim, and witnesses, and the public interest in
the effective administration of justice (see
Al-Khawaja and Tahery, cited above, § 146). The
Court has thus considered that where a conviction was based solely or
decisively on evidence given by absent witnesses who had not been
available for cross-examination by the defence, the admission as
evidence of those hearsay statements will not automatically result in a breach of Article 6 § 1. In those cases, however, the Court must subject
the proceedings to the most searching scrutiny. Because of the dangers
of the admission of such evidence, it would constitute a very important
factor to balance in the scales and one which would require sufficient
counterbalancing factors, including the existence of strong procedural safeguards. The question in each case is whether there are sufficient
counterbalancing factors in place, including measures that permit a fair
and proper assessment of the reliability of that evidence to take
place. This would permit a conviction to be based on such evidence only
if it is sufficiently reliable, given its importance in the case (ibid.,
§ 147).

48.  The
Court notes, however, that the applicant had been given the opportunity
to put questions to N. during the investigative stage of the
proceedings but his counsel had failed to attend the interview (see
above). In those circumstances, the interests of justice were obviously
in favour of admitting N’s statements in evidence. The Court observes
that those statements were read out before the trial court and that the applicant was allowed to challenge their truthfulness by giving his own
account of the facts, which he duly did. The Court further observes that
the domestic courts carefully compared both versions of the facts,
which partially coincided, particularly those aspects that did not
involve the commission of any criminal offence or that had minor
criminal implications. They deemed the applicant’s version weak and
inconsistent, and that of N. logical and sufficiently detailed to
eliminate any suspicion of simulation or revenge. The Court notes in
this respect that the domestic courts also took into account the
statement given by N. at the hearing which, although incomplete, served
to corroborate her pre-trial statements (see paragraph 11 above). The
reliability of N.’s statements was further supported by indirect
evidence, such as the fact that she had been abducted from her apartment
by the applicant and that when she had been released by the applicant
she had been wearing different clothes belonging to the latter, and by
the medical opinions and reports confirming that her bodily injuries and
psychological condition were consistent with her account of the facts
(see paragraph 15 above). Indeed, the use of all this corroborating
evidence led the Supreme Court to conclude that the trial court had acted cautiously enough in the treatment of N.’s statements (see
paragraph 18 above).

49.  Against
this background, and viewing the fairness of the proceedings as a
whole, the Court considers that there were sufficient counterbalancing
factors to conclude that the admission in evidence of N.’s statements
did not result in a breach of Article 6 § 1 read in conjunction with
Article 6 § 3 (d) of the Convention.

EIT:n lehdistötiedote, jossa myös linkki koko tuomioon, löytyy täältä: here

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